by Chris Billowsin Mental Mischief0 commentstags: Change of Mind, Defining Life, Human Condition
I had a discussion with a friend about musical talent. We both love music and discussed why we never ended up playing it. We arrived at different conclusions about why this happened. For me, I remember making a conscious decision when I was about 17 years old to give up on playing music. I loved it but not enough to want to play it. Playing music did not resonate with me the way it would resonate with somebody who needed to play it. I can play music and believe I would have been a competent musician if I put in hours into it. Its just that I have other interests. My friend says that he desperately wanted to play music but just could not. He said that people would show him how to play the guitar but he could not get his fingers to move the right way. It is was such a struggle that he decided that if it is not going to come easy, then its simply was not meant to be. He said that this proves that we both lacked talent. I disagreed with him. Part of the reason for that disagreement is that we lacked a […]
by Chris Billowsin Political Ponderings0 commentstags: Corruption of Democracy, Human Condition, Political Opinion
Months ago, I was doing some Google searches on different philosophical tangents and one of them was “Critiques of Democracy” and I stumbled upon an intriguing website called Promethea. What caught my interest was its statement on its notes page that “all things should be examined according to their impact on life, and popularity by itself is not enough endorsement.” Wow! That struck home and made so much sense. Democracy is not about rationally evaluating what matters or counts most, but about simply giving power to people who are not necessarily capable of measuring or judging competently. Instead voters resort to treating democracy as popularity contests. The site is extensive and I personally find the reference to a mythical character of Prometheus to be very cool. It speaks about Individualism but appears to understand that there is no such thing as a self-made person for we are dependent on the sacrifices of others. Its anti-collectivist stance appears to be a bit too rigid – if individuals have freedom, then surely they have the freedom to join (and leave) a collective. Its something I will peruse over the next year and write a more extensive summary. Check it out… Promethea.org
by Chris Billowsin Business Beller0 commentstags: Corporate Corruption, Foolishness, Human Condition
I was reading about Bernie Madoff’s investment scandal and it suddenly struck me that defined-benefit pension plans (public and private) operate on the same principal as Madoff’s Ponzi plan. Bernie Madoff defrauded his investors of $65 billion dollars with a massive ponzi scheme. Madoff was smart by never offering suspicious high returns to everyone, but did guarantee a steady and modest return regardless of the state of the stock market. This latter point should be suspicious to any intelligent investor. Yet that is exactly what our public and private defined benefit plans are doing. They guarantee a return or benefit rate. Yet how can they do this? Just like Madoff did, by using new money brought in from new investors (or pension contributors) to help meet the payout obligations. As long as new citizens grow up and are forced to contribute to the pension plans, the plan remains viable. But, perhaps we would all be better served by a defined-contribution plan, where the return is based on how well one’s money is managed, instead of compelling citizens to make pension contributions to maintain unsustainable payouts.
by Chris Billowsin Spirit Speculations0 commentstags: Comprehensive Analysis, Defining Life, Foolishness, Human Condition, Human History
Being intrigued by the title, I picked up this book to learn finally once and for all which side was right – Are humans a product of biology of genes or social environment? Spoiler Alert: Its both. As a society we have witnessed a longstanding feud between two camps – one set of people believes that genes and nature determines our destiny while their opponents insist that socialization and nurture is our sole determinant. Like the title suggests and as Ridley states almost immediately, it is both nature and nurture that affects human development. The two sides may have valid contributions to understanding human development, but neither side gets it completely right because of sectarian/institutional thinking. The problem is that we are all victim of a media that thrives on reporting the controversial and extremist positions of the Naturists and Nurturist camps. That debate has been an ivory tower battle that has spilled over into Pop-psychology books that teach parents how to parent, how to find a partner, etc. This book proves the level of inanity that academics can resort to. Ridley demonstrate how neither side got it right and how humans are both genes and social mores wrapped together […]
by Chris Billowsin Political Ponderings0 commentstags: Foolishness, Free Enterprise, Human Condition
It remains painfully obvious that this book is written by a crank. Only a crank would tell us that we need to rethink our consumption patterns, how we manage our economy, and our relationship with our environment. Going against conventional thinking is pretty fashionable today, but to do so in 1973 and still be so relevant is testimony of a crank who knew what he was talking about. E.F. Schumacher wrote this book in response to what he saw as the quickening and centralizing nature of modern society. He saw governments and businesses getting bigger and losing their essential and natural sense of scale, which is human friendly or simply “small”. Thus prompting the title of the book. It was through this book that Schumacher is credited with influencing green economic thinking from the 70s and afterward. He articulated the fundamental question about growth: “How much further growth will be possible, since infinite growth in a fine environment is an obvious impossibility”. Such thinking was radical, yet not socialist. Instead his thinking was the basis of humanistic, or human-centred economics. This book helped shift the tired and largely irrelevant debate of Left wing vs Right wing economic politics or big […]
by Chris Billowsin Political Ponderings0 commentstags: Foolishness, Human Condition, Human History
The Economist posted an article, Why Wars Happen, explaining that the cause of most conflicts in the world during 2008 is due to ideological differences. This reinforces my conviction and past blog posts, Ideology vs Philosophy and Confessions of a Recovering Ideologue. that ideology in all of its forms is the scourge of the modern world. The research about world conflict was conducted by the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research, and has some pretty amazing information there. Does my criticism of ideology mean I am anti-thinking? No, I would instead argue that ideological thinking is an oxymoron. Ideology is a mental disorder that afflicts politics, religion, culture (political correctness), and business. To be ideological means to not think and to abdicate one’s rational powers. To truly be a thinking person one must be philosophical and open to new information.